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Full text of "Soil treatment : an aid in termite control"

Historic, archived document 

Do not assume content reflects current 
scientific knowledge, policies, or practices 






SOIL TREATMENT m 







n old in 

TERMITE 
CONTROL 



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Leaflet 324 

Revised September 1958 

UNITED STATES DEPARTMEN1 
OF AGRICULTURE 




SOIL TREATMENT 

an Aid in TERs 



The damage to buildings in our country caused by 
subterranean termites amounts to many millions of 
dollars annually. Although such losses are more 
prevalent in the South than in the North, termites 
are capable of causing structural damage in any 
State. Because of this, infestations should be checked 
wherever they are found. 

HOW TO DETECT INFESTATIONS 

Telltale signs of subterranean termites are 
the earthen tunnels or runways built by these 
insects over the surfaces of foundation walls 
to reach the wood above. When feeding in 
wood, the pearly-white worker termites make 
galleries that follow the grain. These galleries 
seldom show on the wood surface, but may be 
found by removing weatherboarding or trim 
boards or by probing with an ice pick or a 
knife the places where one suspects the insects 
are at work. Termites do not push out saw- 
dustlike material from their galleries. 

Another sign of termites is the swarming of 
winged adults early in the spring or fall. Each 
adult has four silvery wings, which are of equal 
length and twice as long as the body. Numer- 
ous detached wings may be found where swarm- 
ing has taken place, even after the swarm has 
disappeared. 

HAZARDS OF INFESTATION 

The hazards of termite infestation are greatest 
beneath buildings having (1) a concrete slab 
on the ground, (2) a crawl space with inadequate 
clearance, ventilation, and drainage, or (3) a 
basement with enclosed porches, sun parlors, 
and terraces, where filled earth comes very 
close to the building timbers. In slab-on- 



iTE CONTROL 



ground construction and in basementless build- 
ings, the hazard is apt to be greater along the 
inside of the foundation, while in buildings 
with basements, the opposite is apt to be true. 

PRINCIPLE OF CONTROL 

In attempting to control termites in a build- 
ing, the main thing to remember is to break 
the contact between the termite colony in the 
soil and the woodwork in the building. This 
can be done by (1) making the necessary 
changes in structure to block the passageways 
from soil to wood, and removing all wood 
supports, formboards, debris, etc., from the 
ground, (2) by chemically treating the soil, or 
(3) by using a combination of these methods. 

Every case of termite trouble requires in- 
dividual consideration. The suggestions given 
in this leaflet relate principally to some of the 
more simple soil treatments. When properly 
applied, they should give several years of 
remedial protection. 

When more difficult treatments are needed, 
such as for areas beneath filled-in porches, or 
when the drilling of masonry foundations is 
necessary, see instructions in Farmers' Bulletin 
1993. 1 

METHODS OF TREATING 

Concrete slab on ground. — The control of 
infestations occurring beneath concrete floor 
slabs on the ground is very difficult and some- 
times hazardous. For this reason, it is not ad- 



1 Decay and Termite Damage in Houses. U. S. 
Department of Agriculture Farmers' Bui. 1993. 26 
pp., illus. Revised May 1951. For sale by Superin- 
tendent of Documents. 



SOIL TREATMENT 

an Aid in TERMITE CONTROL 



PRINCIPLE OF CONTROL 



wood, and removing all 



ving weatherboards 



dustlike material from their galleries. 

Another sign of termites is the swarming of 
winged adults early in the spring or fall. Each 



applied, they should give several years of 
remedial protection. 

When more difficult treatments are needed, 
such as for areas beneath fi)!ed-in porches, or 



HAZARDS OF INFESTATION 
The hazards of termite infestation are greatest 
beneath buildings having (1) a concrete slab 
on the ground, (2) a crawl space with inadequate 
clearance, ventilation, and drainage, or (3) a 
basement with enclosed porches, sun parlors, 
and terraces, where filled earth comes very 



vised as work to be done by the average home- 
owner. This is especially true where radiant 
heat is concerned, since pipes are apt to be 
buried in the concrete and may be damaged 
when drilling holes in the floor through which 
a soil poison is poured to treat the ground below. 

Where pipes are not present in the slab, holes 
are usually made one-half inch in diameter, 
about 1 foot apart and 6 inches from the wall. 
An alternative method consists of drilling the 
holes through the foundation walls, so that the 
chemical can be introduced into the ground just 
below the slab. The holes are made about 5 
feet apart and the chemical is distributed best 
by the use of considerable pressure. 

Along the exterior foundation wall, make a 
trench 6 to 8 inches wide and about a foot deep, 
but do not go below the top of the footing. 
Where the footing is deeper than the trench, 
make holes along the bottom of the trench, 1 
inch in diameter and about a foot apart, as is 
mentioned below under basementless houses. 




Basementless houses. — To control infesta- 
tions occurring along interior walls or around 
supporting piers of basementless houses, dig a 
trench 6 to 8 inches wide and a few inches deep, 
next to the walls or piers, taking care not to go 
below the top of the footing. If the land slopes 
or the footing is more than 12 inches deep, make 
crowbar, pipe, or rod holes about an inch in 
diameter and a foot apart, from the bottom of 
the trench to near the footing. This will help 
to distribute the chemical evenly along the wall. 

The trench along the exterior foundation wall 
is also made 6 to 8 inches wide, but about a foot 
deep. If needed, holes are also made in the 
trench bottom, as described for the trench along 
the interior wall. 

Basement houses. — Where the termites are 
coming from beneath the concrete floor in the 
basement, remove any wood that may extend 
into the ground, poison the soil, and then seal 
cracks or holes through which termites may 
enter. Fill large ones with a dense cement 
mortar and small ones with a roofing-grade 
coal-tar pitch. Where the infestation is located 
between the floor and wall (expansion joint) or 
around a furnace, make a series of 1-inch holes, 
spaced about 1 foot apart, through which a 
chemical can be poured. Holes along a wall 
should be made about 6 to 8 inches from it, so 
as to clear the footing and reach the soil be- 
neath. 

Where the infestation occurs along the ex- 
terior foundation wall in houses having full 
basements, it is necessary to treat the soil to a 
greater depth than is required for the other 
types of houses. The trench is prepared in the 
same way, but the pipe or rod holes should ex- 
tend a total of about 30 inches below ground 
level to aid proper distribution of the chemical 
to all parts of the wall. This is especially im- 



portant in masonry foundations where numer- 
ous mortar joints are present below grade — 
some of which may be susceptible to termite 
attack. 

CHEMICALS TO USE AND HOW TO 
PREPARE THEM 

The two chemicals recommended are water 
emulsions. Water emulsions are relatively 
nontoxic to plants, and are suitable for use 
along exterior foundation walls, whereas oils 
cause injury to plants. Oils also may creep 
up walls and damage floors when applied 
along the interior of foundations. The con- 
centrations recommended are twice those of 
the minimum ones found effective to date. 
Proper use of such concentrations allows a 
safety margin and gives protection over a 
period of several years. 
CHLORDANE, 1 -percent water emulsion 

Chlordane is a viscous, amber-colored liquid. 
It acts on insects as a stomach poison, a contact 
poison, and as a fumigant. When diluted with 
water and mixed with the soil, it has relatively 
little odor. In most localities, it is available 
as 45 or 75 percent water emulsion concen- 
trates, and contains 4 and 8 pounds, respec- 
tively, of the technical chemical per gallon. 

The 1 -percent emulsion is prepared by adding 
48 or 96 gallons of water to each gallon of the 
45 or 75 percent concentrate respectively. 
The ratio is 1 to 48, and 1 to 96, respectively, 
whether the measure is in gallons or in cupfuls. 
Small quantities can be prepared as readily as 
larger ones. 
dieldrin, 0.5-percent water emulsion 

This chemical is quite similar in character 
and performance to chlordane. It is available 
as a 15-percent emulsion concentrate, contain- 
ing 1.5 pounds of technical dieldrin per gallon. 



It is prepared by adding 36 gallons of water to 
each gallon of concentrate. 

RATE OF APPLICATION 

Slab-on-ground houses. — Apply at least 
2 gallons of the diluted emulsion per each 5 
linear feet of wall, through holes made in the 
floor or foundation, to reach the infested soil. 
Treatment around the entire slab and around 
other openings left for plumbing, etc., is 
advised. Apply the emulsion at the same rate 
in the trench made along the exterior founda- 
tion walls, if the footing is not more than 15 
inches deep. If deeper in some places, apply 
as directed below for crawl-space houses. 

Crawl-space houses. — Apply 2 gallons of 
the diluted emulsion per each 5 linear feet of 
trench made along the interior of the founda- 
tion walls, or around piers or other materials 
connecting the ground with wood above. Along 
the exterior foundation walls, including the 
part adjacent to entrance platforms, porches, 
sunparlors, etc., apply the chemical at the same 
rate for each foot of depth from the surface to 
the footing. Thus, if the footing is 2 feet deep 
in some places, increase the dosage to 4 gallons 
of the chemical per each 5 linear feet of trench, 
or if it is 5 feet deep, use 10 gallons of the 
chemical per linear unit. The enclosed areas 
adjacent to the foundation wall (entrance plat- 
forms, sunparlors, etc.), should be either 
trenched along the foundation and treated, or 
have holes bored through the slabs and the 
chemical applied through them. 

Basement houses. — Where it is necessary 
to treat through the basement floor, apply the 
chemical in the same manner and at the same 
rate as recommended for treating the slab-on- 
ground house. When treating along the ex- 
terior of the foundation wall, use the rate 
mentioned for the crawl-space house. 



Voids in unit masonry foundations. — 

Where termites have infested the voids in the 
walls or piers, make holes in the mortar joints 
in the lower part of the wall or pier near the floor 
and apply the chemical at the rate of 1 gallon 
per 5 linear feet of wall, or around the pier. 

APPLYING CHEMICALS IN TRENCHES 

Pour or sprinkle some of the chemical at the 
bottom of the trench. Cover with a layer of 
soil about 6 inches thick. Pour or sprinkle 
more of the chemical on top of this soil layer. 
Mix the chemical thoroughly with this layer. 
Tamp well. Continue to add more layers of 
soil, mix with chemical as before, and tamp 
until the trench is filled. Do not apply chem- 
icals to water-soaked or frozen soils, because 
the chemicals will not be well distributed and 
the desired control may not be obtained. 

CAUTION 

The chemicals mentioned in this leaflet are poisonous 
to man and other warm-blooded animals and must be 
handled with care. Do not permit them to come in 
contact with your skin. Wear rubberized gloves for 
protection. Where the poison is being applied with 
pressure through holes in walls and piers, use a cellu- 
lose acetate face guard so that the chemical cannot 
splash back onto your face. If contact with the soil 
poison occurs, wash the skin immediately with warm 
soapy water. When the chemical is being applied in 
an enclosed area, provide a free circulation of air. 
Never apply these chemicals in places where they 
might be leached from the soil and enter wells that 
supply drinking water. Keep children and pets away 
from areas where these poisons are being prepared and 
used. 

Forest Service Washington, D. C. 

U. S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1958 



For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government 
Printing Office, Washington 25, D. C. - Price 5 cents